"It's good when business leaders get on arts boards, because then they go back to their organisations and espouse what's good about the arts."While AbaF offers a formal matching service, Haley says established networks tend to be relatively self-sufficient, offering up last week's example of Bruce Parncutt's elevation to president of the NGV's board of trustees, succeeding Rich Lister QC and rural restaurant owner Allan Myers. Myers was then in turn named chair of the National Gallery of Australia. (The switcharoo followed a spat earlier this year when Myers was re-appointed amid suggestions that director Naomi Milgrom was behind a push to install herself in the top job -- Milgrom is married to John Kaldor who in 2008 gifted a record $35 million collection to the Art Gallery of NSW). According to Mordant, a good skills mix remains key. "You're not looking for a mates board. You're looking for people who bring the skills that will be valuable to the organisation and who collectively can be impactful," he said. Lachlan Murdoch, Geoff Dixon and Katie Page-Harvey sit amid the MCA's heavy hitters, but all are happy to put their shoulder to the wheel to defend and extend the museum's daunting collection. Murdoch's many friends from a stint on the MCA's youth committee in the 1980s persist to the present day. Positive Solutions director Cathy Hunt, whose firm founded a "board connect" service to professionalise arts boards, says the presence of business leaders is an overwhelming positive, especially on less glamorous not-for-profits that can struggle with fundamentals like balance sheets. "There's a big different between different types of boards and different types of organisations," she said. "Things have changed a hell of a lot. It's good when business leaders get on arts boards, because then they go back to their organisations and espouse what's good about the arts. I believe a lot of the people that are on those boards are actually passionate about those organisations." It's not just arts boards sprinkled with magic dust. Government approved or independently appointed boards like the ABC and the Reserve Bank also command serious respect. The Australian Museum is chaired by Telstra chair Catherine Livingstone and the Salvos' Southern States division sees Myer chief Bernie Brookes saddling up next to Herald & Weekly Times executive Peter Blunden. And it would also be remiss to skip over members of sports boards like the Melbourne Cricket Club and the AFL Commission, which, if they were killed in a plane crash, would seriously gouge Melbourne's cultural fabric. There's also a curio in Sydney's high-powered Centennial Park Trustees -- many members, including Ita Buttrose, reside nearby. The private school boards examined by Crikey last month in the wake of the sacking of high-profile MLC principal Rosa Storelli also rate, but struggle for the most part to reach a critical mass. Sydney-based entrepreneur Rose Herceg suggests one way to overcome the vanity issue is to develop an informal working committee that has specific roles and responsibilities attached. On a functional board, if the work isn't getting done and purses aren't being prised open, expect to be executed. "I remember when I sat on the old Text Media board (Crikey chairman Eric Beecher was an owner) I knew what my role was: it was to write strategy and think of big ideas and new businesses. Otherwise you're just a tire kicker. I'd like to think that if I didn't do that Eric would have chucked me out the window," she said. Tony Grybowski -- executive director of the arts organisations division of the Australia Council, the body that provides $120 million in government funding to the sector each year -- says corporate governance has massively improved since the release of the landmark 1999 Nugent review into the nation's 31 major performing arts organisations. There were initial fears the review would lead to the "corporatisation" of the arts. "Helen Nugent was absolutely right," he told Crikey, having just concluded friendly chats with his 28 chairman over the last couple of months. "Over that time the 'I want to go on a board' thing has significantly changed. People that go on an arts board work really hard for no money. And they want to make a contribution. "They are just so passionate and committed, it really is just so amazing." Crikey's top 25 trophy boards -- send your suggestions to [email protected] and we'll keep the list updated ... 1. National Gallery of Victoria Trustees Bruce Parncutt (president), Dr Susan Cohn, Peter Edwards, Corbett Lyon, Naomi Milgrom, Angela Ndalianas, Andrew Sisson, Michael Ullmer, Jason Yeap. 2. Sydney Theatre Company David Gonski (chair), Jonathan Biggins, Cate Blanchett, Toni Cody, John Connolly, Martin McCallum, Justin Miller, Simon Mordant, Sam Mostyn, Andrew Stuart, Andrew Upton. 3. Australian Chamber Orchestra Guido Belgiorno-Nettis (chair), Bill Best, Liz Cacciottolo, Chris Froggatt, Janet Holmes à Court, Angus James, Andrew Stevens, John Taberner, Peter Yates. 4. Australian Ballet Christopher Knoblanche (chair), Robert Albert, Julie da Costa, Jim Cousins, John Ellice-Flint, Christopher Goldsworthy, Siobhan McKenna, Sarah Murdoch, Peter Smedley, Craig Spencer, Penny Fowler, Bruce Parncutt, Catherine Harris. 5. Art Gallery of NSW Steven Lowy (president), Sandra McPhee (vice president), Geoff Ainsworth, David Baffsky, John Beard, Guido Belgiorno-Nettis, Lindy Lee, Samantha Meers, Mark Nelson, Janice Reid, Eleonora Triguboff. 6. National Gallery of Australia Allan Myers (chair), Timothy Fairfax, Ron Radford, John Calvert-Jones, Ashley Dawson-Damer, Alan Froud, Warwick Hemsley, John Hindmarsh, Jane Hylton, Callum Morton, Jeanne Pratt. 7. Museum of Contemporary Art Simon Mordant (chair), Doug Dean, Larissa Lavarch (nee Behrendt, term ending), Rosemary Laing, Geoff Dixon, Ari Droga, Sarah Morgan, Lachlan Murdoch, Lisa Paulsen, Katie Page-Harvey, Scott Perkins. 8. Opera Australia Ziggy Switkowski (chair), Lesley Alway, Anson Austin, Virginia Braden, David Epstein, Tim McFarlane, Judith Stewart, Josephine Sukkar. 9. National Institute for Dramatic Arts Malcolm Long (chair), Virginia Braden, Bruce Cutler, Kim Dalton, Kathleen Farrell, Judith Isherwood, Peter Lowry, Garry McQuinn, Professor Elizabeth More, Jim Moser, Ralph Myers, Prem Ramburuth, Lynne Williams. 10. Sydney Symphony Orchestra (also Sydney Symphony Council) John Conde (chair), Rory Jeffes, Terrey Arcus, Ewen Crouch, Ross Grant, Jennifer Hoy, Andrew Kaldor, Irene Lee, David Livingstone, Goetz Richter. 11. Melbourne Symphony Orchestra Harold Mitchell (chair), Bronte Adams, Peter Biggs, Alan Goldberg, Alastair McKean, Ann Peacock, Michael Ullmer, Kee Wong, Oliver Carton. 12. Sydney Opera House Trust Kim Williams (chair), Catherine Brenner, Helen Coonan, Wesley Enoch, Renata Kaldor, Robert Leece, Peter Mason, Thomas Parry. 13. Melbourne Theatre Company Derek Young (chair), Lindsey Cattermole, Glyn Davis, John Feder, Gillian Franklin, Ian Marshman, Colin Masters, Terry Moran, Martyn Myer, Ann Tonks, Brett Sheehy. 14. Australian Broadcasting Corporation James Spigelman (chair), Steven Skala, Mark Scott, Julianne Schultz, Cheryl Bart, Fiona Stanley, Jane Bennett. 15. Reserve Bank of Australia Glenn Stevens (chair), Philip Lowe (deputy chair), Martin Parkinson, John Akehurst, Jillian Broadbent, Roger Corbett, John Edwards, Heather Ridout, Catherine Tanna. 16. Centennial Parklands Trustees John Walker (chair), Yvette Pietsch (deputy chair), Anne Keating, Lindley Edwards, Ita Buttrose, Lesli Berger, Giles Edmonds. 17. AFL Commission Mike Fitzpatrick (chair), Andrew Demetriou, Justice Linda Dessau, Bob Hammond, Graeme John, Bill Kelty, Chris Langford, Chris Lynch, Sam Mostyn. 18. Melbourne Cricket Club Paul Sheahan (president), David Crawford, Steven Smith, Stephen Spargo, Michael Happell, David Crow, Peter Dakin, Will Fowles, Jane Nathan, Charles Sitch, Mark Smith, Ted Yencken, Karen Wood. 19. Australian Museum Catherine Livingstone (chair), Merlin Crossley, Karina Kelly, Jason Glanville and Kim McKay, Amanda Lawson, Paul Connor, Helen Wellings, Stephen Crittenden, David Sherley, James Moody. 20. Salvation Army Southern States Margaret Jackson (chair), Raymond A. Finger, Aylene Finger, Peter Walker, Peter Blunden, Bernie Brookes, Joanne Cameron, Michael Johnstone, John Kirby, Peter Mahon, John Paterson, Sabina Schlink, Neil Venables, Bram Cassidy. 21-25. Other states' peak performing arts organisations (funded by the Australian Major Performing Arts Group), for example the: West Australian Symphony Orchestra Janet Holmes à Court (chair), Bill Bloking, Mark Coughlan, Jeff Dowling, Keith Kessell, Barrie Lepley, Anne Nolan, Julian Sher, Bryan Taylor.
Power and privilege: the 25 ‘trophy’ boards high-flyers covet
What are the boardrooms Australia's corporate high-flyers most want to be in? The ones with perks where no experience is necessary -- but it's still hard work. Crikey names the most coveted.